General Mark Milley congress testify testifies
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., greets Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley following a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. (Rod Lamkey/Consolidated News Photos via AP)`
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Lawmakers in both the House and Senate responded [to reports of thousands of missing weapons] by writing stricter accountability into each chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act. That bipartisan, must-pass legislation sets policy priorities for the Pentagon.

In coming weeks, lawmakers will hammer out differences between the two defense authorization act versions as the legislation marches toward the president’s desk. For example, the Senate envisions more reporting to the FBI while the House focuses on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In interviews, military officials have acknowledged numerous problems with how they keep track of weapons through the military’s vast supply chains.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, told senators in June that he would seek a “systematic fix” within the Department of Defense — regardless of what Congress did. Spokespeople for the Army and Marines have said their service branches are making changes to how they account for weapons.

Those internal efforts have not persuaded some lawmakers.

“We are concerned that DOD has seemingly not yet developed a coherent strategy to improve its ability to account for military weapons and equipment,” Democratic leaders on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the leaders of the service branches in a letter dated Monday.

The lawmakers requested a progress briefing by Nov. 19. Spokespeople for the Army, Marines and Air Force said the branches would respond directly to the committee. The Navy did not comment.

The letter also focused on a technology that some units of the Air Force and Army have used to track guns, but that could let even low-tech enemies detect U.S. troops.

When embedded in military guns, thin radio frequency identification tags — RFID, as the technology is known — can streamline weapon counts and distribution. But field testing for AP showed that, outside armories, the electronic signals the tags emit could become an unwanted tracking beacon from distances greater than some armed services seemed to realize.

— Kristin M. Hall and Justin Pritchard in Congress Plans Fixes for US Military’s AWOL Weapons Problems

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66 COMMENTS

  1. Just ask the Obama /Biden administration folks. The guns are most likely in Mexico. The private gun stores stopped going along with operation Fast and Furious.

    • Let’s just say you manage to steal a military full auto rifle or even a light machine gun.
      Let’s pretend you get away with it and they never notice.
      What could you possibly do with it?
      You might try to sell it, but anyone you sell it to might eventually get caught with it and point the police towards you.
      You might take it out to your property way out of the country and shoot it out there, but if it’s in your car on the way to and from the Shooting Spot you might get in an accident or get pulled over and then it might be discovered.
      You might be brazen and take it to the local range and shoot it there.
      Every range I have ever taken a machine gun to has asked to see the ATF form 4.
      Even though technically it’s a confidential tax document and only an ATF agent can demand to see it.
      If you don’t show the tax stamped form 4, to the range master they won’t let you shoot there.
      Even if you find a range that will let you shoot your machine gun without showing a form, it’s possible an ATF agent might be shooting at that range and ask to see the form.
      I guess you could keep it in your gun safe and never take it ou while waiting for the second American Civil War.
      If you ever have ever have a fight with your wife or child, and they call a red flag violation on you, then when the police search your house to take the guns they’ll find your unregistered machine gun.
      And even if it stays in your safe for 20 years until you die, then your wife and kids have an unregistered machine gun in their house.
      You might as well I’ve left them a kilogram of heroin
      To a rational person, an unregistered machine gun is only a liability

      • You use a lot of if’s, …..if is a “mighty big” word, if a bullfrog had wings, it wouldn’t thump his ass along the ground!

        • Why don’t you respond to the guy’s post? He posed some interesting questions with admittedly a lot of “if’s”.

  2. But no hearings into why the military left billions of dollars in weapons in Afghanistan? Like Congress has ever fixed anything. Literally everything the .gov does is a mess.

    • “But no hearings into why the military left billions of dollars in weapons in Afghanistan?”

      the reason is so obvious that we don’t needs hearings for it.

      • Or the tons of ammo, artillery, bombs, mortars, and multi-millions of Hueys left after the fall of Nam that are no doubt still in use by the new Communist dictatorship there, or the All the Weaponry never mentioned lost to enemy forces in numerous other little hegemonic exercises in Good Old Western Imperialism for no security reason because we were never actually attacked but wound up for the benefit of the power elite, and not the poor American Warriors who risked their lives and limbs for virtually nothing. The one that really worried me at the time is the one where hundreds of Stinger missiles were never recovered from our support group in one of the Asian debacles the government involved us in without the consent of We, The People. They might have gone to Africa, where the drugged out teenagers they were using as revolutionary combatants mistook them for LAW rockets and hopefully shot ’em all up firing them at each other.

    • When they come for my guns I plan on telling them that I left them in Afghanistan and they should ask the Taliban where they can find them. The ones that survived the boat accident that is. I wonder how that will go over.

  3. 50 years ago when I served military weapons, both ours and theirs, were available for sale to private parties. AK’s, m16’s with full auto intact. Last one I was offered out of the trunk of a car at a stateside base was an m16, rack number still on it, for 150 bucks. If memory serves my rich uncle was paying 185 for them.

    Gun control is a fools errand.

    • Wait a minute jwm. Some politician told us that ammunition magazines are single-use items that become inoperable after using them one time. Isn’t it the same with AKs and M16s with full-auto intact? That is an important detail because it means that we don’t have to worry about those scary rifle platforms. AmIRight?

    • Gun control is more of a distraction…a misdirection to appease the masses of pearl clutchers. It serves as a focus for the emotionally dependent, insecure, right-brainers who demand their personal “safety” above all else…up to, and including, the dissolution of individual rights and responsibilities.

      Just because Communism hasn’t worked in over 100 years of various integrations…it’s bound to work this time because Big Tech is giving the Masters better tools for identifying / tracking dissidents. It’s all been practice up to this point. Increasingly up-scaled Socialism has been the foot in the door, the test bed for indoctrinating the next generation, for the last 90 years.

      I am curious as to what will happen when the two diametrically opposite philosophies of Islam and Communism finally collide. Both envision a World dominated by their belief. 1.8 billion Muslims against 2 billion Communists…buy your popcorn now while it’s still available.

        • Nice try. There were no “automatic weapons” sold as you allege. You are either blowing this up out of proportion or you are not telling the truth.
          Try again?

        • Well, if you had first hand knowledge of this, why didn’t you call the police? There will always be a “Black Market”. Unless you have some solution to shut “Black Markets” down?

    • Yep. Way back in 1966 my 16 year old HS friend bought a surplus M-1 carbine through the mail for $20. The USPS delivered the firearm without fan-fare. The brown cardboard delivery carton included a couple of boxes of ammunition. We promptly sojourned to our local shooting quarry and put rounds down-range. But he never, ever shot up our high school. Rules change; people change.

      • Toplat31415 But an M-1 Carbine is not an illegal firearm. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has stepped in and made a mess of the free (LEGAL) market.

  4. Considering the DoD has to my knowledge never passed a financial audit despite getting dinged on it time and time again I highly doubt that any new regulations will do anything other than pad some generals resume and some contracts will be awarded.

  5. Let me know when something is being done in congress to flush demoCrap and then perhaps I’ll worry about such distractions.

  6. “We are concerned that DOD has seemingly not yet developed a coherent strategy to improve its ability to account for military weapons and equipment.” — Democratic leaders on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform

    Official Department of Defense Response:

    Apologies to Congress for the misunderstanding–we can totally account for all of our equipment: whatever is missing from our military bases is stuff that we abandoned in Afghanistan when we evacuated in August, 2021.

    Next question?

  7. “… the electronic signals the tags emit could become an unwanted tracking beacon …”

    RFID tags do not emit signals. They respond to a signal. To emit signals would require a power source. Does your credit card, which contains an RFID tag, have a power source??

    • RFID doesn’t require a self-contained power source. The tag is activated by radio waves emitted from an RFID reader. When the reader activates the tag wirelessly, the tag sends data stored in its memory relating to the item to the reader. Newer systems can “ping” and track RFID devices from quite a distance.

      DoD’s concern is well founded.

      • So, after you mass produce the trackers and integrate them into guidance/targeting systems, wars will be much shorter, yes?

        • @LarryinTX

          Imagine a CBU-24 bomb with an RFID reader in each bomblet dropped over a troop concentration. If the initial drop did not eliminate the troops, the readers could keep “pinging” periodically to deny the area to any further incursions by RFID equipped troops….a positive return would activate only that one bomblet nearest the RFID equipped firearm / troop.

          Shorter…probably not. Might diminish civilian casualties in that few civvies would be carrying RFID tags to trigger the explosives. Unless, of course, the weapons engineers also included proximity detection into the bomblets.

          For every measure conceived by the mind of man there is a countermeasure (eventually).

    • RFID doesn’t need a power source to work. Basically, they are powered by the signal (in a specific frequency range) hitting them, then they respond by sending their stored data.

    • The RFID tag gets charged by receiving radio waves, and it then broadcasts a signal that is unique to it. A detector would work similar to radar. It would constantly broadcast the charging frequency, and it would alert if it ever received a response. A demo with a high gain antenna was able to detect the tag 70 yards away.

      The other problem is that tags can be removed from the weapon, or the tag can be cloned, like ripping the treft protection tag off a jacket. The tag will show the weapon is still in the armory, but a visual inspection is still needed to detect the weapon is gone.

  8. I was driving through Augusta, GA a few weeks ago, home of Fort Gordon. On the shoulder of I-20 was a trailer marked with the “1.4” placards indicating small arms ammo. No tractor, just a dropped trailer. Had I been a more unscrupulous person, I would of stayed until night in Augusta and did my best to visit the after hours ammo store conveniently opened on the shoulder of I-20.

    • Gracias.
      Este es el envío de munición perdido que Slow Jose prometió que recibiríamos el mes pasado.

      Necesitamos este envío para mantener todos los “artículos” que recibimos durante los dos primeros términos de esta administración “en funcionamiento.

    • It wouldn’t be there. Haz-mat (anything placarded) loads are not supposed to be left unattended except in designated ‘safe harbors’. And without a tractor it wouldn’t have any lights, so it’s not getting left on the side of the freeway after dark.

        • Last time I was in GA I recall seeing a state patrol car parked in the median every 3 miles. I’m surprised there wasn’t already one parked behind the trailer. Sure you could do just about anything you want, legal or not, but in this situation your over/under for getting away with it is about 3 minutes.

    • Quick like a bunny, rent a tractor (no, farmer, not your type of tractor…) at your local rental agency and be gone with it all. Stop down the road a couple hundred miles and open your own “road side ammo store”…. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • the military is not subject to safe storage laws, they are only subject to the requirements sent down through DoD.

      In the military, at least today, the basics are; if anything “weapon” is missing there is an immediate investigation launched locally and if necessary up-channeled for a lerger investigation. An inventory is suppose to be conducted each shift change for manned armories or storage points, or when ever opened and then closed. Sealed containers are inventoried on a routine basis and if the seals are still in-tact they are generally not opened. Armories and storage points must meet security requirements which are more strict than any “safe storage law” requirement. But even with all that there are flaws in the system that are unique to the military, and sometimes they are built into the system.

      If weapons come up missing its an inside job and most likely involves more than one person, OR it means a book keeping/inventory record error, OR they never actually had the weapon to begin with because the manufacture or supply source has not actually sent it yet to complete a whole shipment. That’s about the only way weapons can come up “missing” in the military system.

      Its not uncommon in the military system to get weapons from suppliers in crate lots with an inventory sent by the supplier and that inventory just entered into the system instead of each weapon being counted individually because the crates are sealed. But sometimes the suppliers don’t pack all the weapons on the inventory due to some reason such as discovering the weapon had an issue but they don’t redo the inventory sheet because it had already been done because most suppliers per-select a lot of weapons, but they send a letter explaining this but sometimes its missed. So the inventory goes in the system and when an actual count comes around there are suddenly weapons missing, but no one has looked in that si8ngle crate where the “missing” weapon was sent separately from the supplier.

      There are lots of weird things that go on in the military inventory system.

      When they speak of “missing weapons” here they do not necessarily mean “missing” as in stolen by someone or misplaced for a fact. Their “missing” is based on records and those could simply be incorrect due to incorrect counts or they could be not accounting for weapons in the active inventory that have not yet been un-crated. But also, maybe some were stolen.

      Several years ago there were several thousand weapons missing in the overall main military inventory, it was a built in error in the accounting methods. The weapons were actually sitting at Diego Garcia in their original crates, where they had been sent because its a war time mobility forces supply point. At that time the main weapon inventory system did not account for weapons in mobility supply storage, they were accounted for as mobility equipment and went into a separate inventory that did not feed into the main accountability for weapons and ammo. DoD declared them missing and started a military wide inventory audit until the built in inventory error was found, then suddenly a “AH Ha!” moment and several thousand weapons were no longer missing.

  9. I remember back in the 90s there were several stories about weapon parts and other equipment missing from National Guard armories. I would imagine this problem has existed for as long as there have been military stockpiles. Some stuff is genuinely lost, some stuff gets mislabeled or the paperwork gets lost…and sadly some stuff goes the way of the “five fingered discount.”

    • While exiting military via the National Guard route, a M16 came up missing after a range sortie. Talk about mass hysteria by the booger-hook gang. Armory locked down by armed dummies until the rifle was located under a bench in back of deuce and a half. “hair-on-fire” “we’re all gonna die” good time for all.

  10. How’s about we lose that puss Mark Milley & the disaster known as congress & get America back to being #1 instead of being the laughingstock of the world.
    BUCK FIDEN…!

  11. Long ago, I served as a USA HHQ Detachment Commander in Germany. During an alert followed by a hasty field mobilization, my armorer lost accountability for an M16 issued to our unit from another company in the battalion. Because our very large detachment received hand-issued weapons from every other company in the battalion (there were six companies and more than 1200 soldiers) we had more than 110 weapons issued to our HHQD. He and I spent 48 sleepless hours hand-counting and visually inspecting every M16 in the battalion until we found the missing weapon. Turned out to be a hand receipt issue. The missing M16 was safely under another company’s control. But had we not found the error, he and I would certainly have faced an Article 32 investigation, likely followed by a field-grade Article 15 (at the very least!). My point is, the military takes lost weaponry very seriously. I think it’s the current administration that does not.

    • Because the current administration thinks weapons and lives are meant to be lost.

      A death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.

  12. Long long ago in a land far far away I was involved (voluntold) in an actual count inventory of military supplies.

    The count did not agree with the local maintained inventory with the discrepancy accounted for by “issued” inventory reports.

    The issued inventory did not agree with the actual count of issued equipment. The discrepancy was accounted for by damaged and surveyed equipment inventory reports.

    After much head scratching by higher ranks, they decided everything was ok as is and went to something else.

    Someplace in that mess equipment went missing but they could not pin it down.

    “Stuff Happens”

    • Story from Gulf War One was that the 1st UH60 that went down had was something like 20tons of equipment surveyed against the incident as destroyed. (20T is several times the allowable payload of a UH60).

      • All in keeping with the finest military traditions…

        We had a HMMWV burn up during live-fire at the NTC. The amount of equipment surveyed against that loss was… Breathtaking. I’ve no idea, no idea at all, how they fit all that missing mess section equipment on that vehicle, or the stuff from the motor pool. The real miracle was in the artistry with which it had to have been loaded, because I’m not sure if I could have fit all that crap onto a frikkin’ HEMTT.

        The miracles of combat loss, training loss, or “lost in shipment” will always be with us. There’s a missing 20′ shipping container somewhere between Kuwait and North America that reputedly contains enough “missing” equipment to fill about six 40′ shipping containers, and that was just my unit alone from OIF I.

  13. Most of this is an accounting problem, and some of it is due to malfeasance. The ratio between the two is fundamentally unknowable, because of the vagaries of accounting and human nature.

    The military loses weapons. It’s unavoidable–Some small number will fall into forests or swamps during airborne operations, others will burn up in vehicles that caught on fire, and still more will be lost through “lost shipments” and “misplaced in storage”.

    The idiots running the show will demand more regulation, they’ll layer on more and more stupidity, and then it will gradually be relaxed because it makes it impossible to conduct day-to-day operations–Until the next “crisis”, when they’ll layer on yet more regulatory cruft and we’ll repeat the same cycle over and over again. It’s like some kind of perverse sine wave, if you were to track it graphically. And, it never really works.

    What would work? Actually going after the bad actors and making examples of them. We had a “stolen weapon” at Fort Lewis, back in the dark ages of the mid-1980s. Soldier was getting thrown out of the Army for misconduct, and someone thought it would be a good idea to entrust him with guarding weapons during a recovery from a field exercise. He decided to “get back” at the guy who was responsible for him being punished for his misconduct, and the little twerp took that guy’s weapon out and buried it in the woods when nobody was looking. Cue a week of lock-downs, draconian searches, and mass punishments galore. He finally breaks, confesses all, weapon is found. What did the responsible parties do? They chose to punish the entire leadership team in that company for “lax small arms accountability procedures”, ruining several careers, and then emplaced extensive and onerous “reformed” procedures across the entire post for weapons accountability that resulted in it taking between three and four hours of dedicated time issuing weapons during alerts and exercises.

    Oh, and the little deviant shit that caused all that? They didn’t do a damn thing to him, just let him continue on out the gate as a Less-than-Honorable discharge with no further punishment… Little bastard should have spent ten years in Leavenworth, but, nooooo… Too hard to do, too much trouble.

    Idiots. They’re never going to fix the “problem”, simply because it’s an unfortunate part of doing business–And, they never address the actual problem, which is that when things are done wrong, they refuse to punish the actual bad actors in the case, and instead tend to always go after parties that had nothing to do with the actual act.

    I also blame the friggin’ JAG lawyers, who will try and succeed in getting their clients off for stuff that is rock-solid something that every soldier ought to know and adhere to–That creepy little shit who stole the boss’s rifle? He got off from any punishment largely because they couldn’t find the single-sheet “statement of understanding” document that he was supposed to sign saying that he acknowledged it was wrong and against orders/policy to not “maintain accountability of all small arms put into his care”. What. The. Fsck. Dude got off because of a stupid paper drill, one that violates all common sense–But, not a lawyer’s common sense. Can’t document that someone was actually told something, which is harped on from day one of Basic Training…? Let him off, he can’t be held responsible.

    That’s where a lot of this shit comes from, folks. And, they won’t fix it, ‘cos… They’re all dumbasses. Put people with common sense in charge, let them decide what to do about misconduct with weapons? You’ll see a lot of this shit stop, ‘cos mofos will be in jail for lengthy periods of time, when they chose to f-up by the numbers. Leave idiot officers and civilian officials in charge? Resign yourself to mass losses of weapons and ammunition.

  14. The military is more than welcome to lose weapons and ammo in my house any time they want to. Just a patriot supporting the troops…

  15. Let’s imagine you get your hands on a military full auto rifle or a light machine gun.
    Assume you get away with it and they don’t notice.
    What are you going to do with it?

    You could try to sell it, but anyone you sell it to could end up getting caught with it and reporting you to the cops.

    You could take it out to your ranch in the middle of nowhere and shoot it there, but if it’s in your car on the way to and from the Shooting Spot, you could get into an accident or be stopped over, and it’ll be discovered.

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